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Can the Preface Broker a Realist Pact in Fantastic Fiction?

Mathew, Imogen

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This paper takes as its primary concern the relationship between prefaces, realism, and what Tzvetan Todorov terms “fantastic fiction.” Understood as the “hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event” (Todorov 25), the fantastic may be found in many nineteenth-century fictional genres, from the novel of sensation to imperial gothic, colonial romance, mystery, science fiction, detective fiction and horror. Scholars have...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorMathew, Imogen
dc.date.accessioned2019-08-12T02:47:41Z
dc.identifier.issn1327-8746
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/164991
dc.description.abstractThis paper takes as its primary concern the relationship between prefaces, realism, and what Tzvetan Todorov terms “fantastic fiction.” Understood as the “hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event” (Todorov 25), the fantastic may be found in many nineteenth-century fictional genres, from the novel of sensation to imperial gothic, colonial romance, mystery, science fiction, detective fiction and horror. Scholars have convincingly shown that the fantastic exhibits a strong reliance on realism: in order to have its highly improbable tales accepted as “true,” authors of fantastic fiction must first establish a realist pact with their reader (Brantlinger; Pykett The Sensation Novel; Spencer). However, these findings tend to be premised on close readings of the main text, rather than close readings of the preface or other paratextual elements. Indeed, few studies have been devoted to understanding the role of prefatory material in nineteenth-century English literature. The present study proposes an examination of two canonical works of fantastic fiction, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). 1 I analyse the ways in which the paratextual apparatus plays a crucial role in establishing a realist pact with the reader before the narrative proper commences.
dc.format.extent16 pages
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherAustralasian Victorian Studies Association
dc.rights© Australasian Victorian Studies Association (AVSA)
dc.sourceAustralasian Journal of Victorian Studies
dc.source.urihttps://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/AJVS/article/view/11084/11849
dc.titleCan the Preface Broker a Realist Pact in Fantastic Fiction?
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume22
dc.date.issued2018
local.identifier.absfor200500 - LITERARY STUDIES
local.identifier.ariespublicationu9803255xPUB2303
local.publisher.urlhttp://www.avsa.unimelb.edu.au/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationMathew, Imogen, College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University
local.bibliographicCitation.issue1
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage82
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage97
local.identifier.absseo950203 - Languages and Literature
dc.date.updated2019-03-31T07:25:07Z
dcterms.accessRightsOpen access via publisher website
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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